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February 2023Vol. 24, No. 1Congregate Care in the Age of FFPSA

The Capacity Building Center for States published a brief, Congregate Care in the Age of Family First, for those interested in learning how to use the provisions in the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) to improve their use of congregate care and qualified residential treatment program assessments. Although it is preferred to keep children in the least restrictive setting when they need to be in out-of-home care, children and youth who have complex behavioral or clinical needs may benefit from a short-term stay in a residential treatment facility. The passage of FFPSA opened pathways of funding for states to focus on building and supporting children's connections to family through prevention services and improving the quality of residential care for the children who do need it. Child welfare managers, administrators, and others can find foundational information in the brief for implementation and potential next steps.

The brief breaks down the law into three main tenets: (1) prevention of entry into care, (2) family-based placements, and (3) residential treatment program requirements. It also includes considerations for planning, strategies, and state examples. Agency leaders and policymakers can also find suggestions for creating a collaborative and data-driven process when planning for the appropriate use of congregate care, such as the following:

  • Develop an internal implementation team.
  • Convene a partner group.
  • Examine the data.
  • Explore other state's approaches.
  • Create a plan.

For more detail on planning considerations, read Congregate Care in the Age of Family First on the Center for States website.